Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

fire season

For more than 15 years, Philip Connors has spent every summer season in a glass-walled lookout tower in the wilds of New Mexico's Gila National Forest, watching for smoke.  As a fire lookout, his days are mostly solitary affairs, which leaves ample room for reflection, reading, observing the quirks of nature, and the occasional flare of distant smoke to break the calm.  Filled with evocative language and a hearty dose of history, Fire Season serves as an excellent escape into the wilderness of mountains, forest, and desert.

"On clear days I can make out mountains a hundred and eighty miles away. To the east stretches the valley of the Rio Grande, cradled by the desert: austere, forbidding, dotted with creosote shrubs and home to a collection of horned and thorned species evolved to live in a land of scarce water. To the north and south, along the Black Range, a line of peaks rises and falls in timbered waves; to the west, the Rio Mimbres meanders out of the mountains, its lower valley verdant with grasses. Beyond it rise more mesas and mountains: the Diablos, the Jerkies, the Mogollons. A peaceable kingdom, a wilderness in good working order — and my job to sound the alarm if it burns."

Philip Connors is the author of two memoirs, Fire Season and All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found.  He has worked as an editor for the Wall Street Journal and has had his writing published by Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, and many others.  He lives in New Mexico.

Published:  2011
Length:  246 pages
Set in:  Gila National Forest, New Mexico, United States